The reality is that very few people have a writing career. Many people write, a few publish, and a very small fraction of those people make enough money to call it a career. For most, writing is a hobby, at most a side job. The frustrating thing for me now is that my husband makes more than enough to support us; in an alternate reality where I married him first, maybe I'd be a stay-at-home dad who writes while the kids are at school, and any publishing success I have would be extra income, not essential. Maybe I would have gotten a jump-start on my writing career ten years ago if I hadn't felt the need to be the family's bread-winner. But in this reality, I did feel that need ten years ago, and now my husband and I both have ex-wives and kids to support, which means both our incomes are essential.
Another part of me recognizes this is all first-world, upper-middle class, white male privileged whining. Many, many couples both work multiple jobs just to support their single family household, leaving little time for a hobby that maybe one day could possibly turn into secondary income. Many, many women put their dreams on hold in order to raise a family, and end up starting their career of choice ten, fifteen, or twenty years later than their male counterparts. To the extent that I can as a man, I identify with those women who felt pressured to fill a role that perhaps wasn't exactly what they would have wanted for themselves.
At the same time, I also identify with those women who are grateful for the good that has come from their choices, whether or not they would make those same choices again. I love my kids; in that alternate reality where I married a man the first time, I have no doubt that we would have had kids and loved them just as much, but we wouldn't have had these kids. I am grateful for ten years of memories with a great friend who continues to be a wonderful mother to our children. I am lucky to have the job I do, with all its benefits, financial and otherwise. And I'm privileged to be in a place now where I can focus on my writing again, even if it's just a stolen hour here and there--it's more than many have. So I'll give myself a minute to mourn lost opportunities and imaginary alternate realities, then plant myself firmly in the pretty fantastic reality I've got, and forge ahead.